"WHITE MAN BERY UNSARTIN."
" NIGGER HAINT GOT NO FRIENDS, NO HOW."
THE BLACKEST CHArTER IN THE HISTORY
OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.
THE MEN WH(I ROBBED AND COMBINED TO ROB
Jos. SniLLiNGTON, Publi.shcr,
363 Pa. Avcnoe. ^0^^*^^ .^^
THE WASHERS AND THE SCR11U5EUS- THE
MEN WHO liOBHEl) THEM.
The last re})ort of the three Commissioners for winding
up (this is a misnomer) the affairs of the bankrupt
Freedmen's Bank, brouglit out in response to a resolution
of Congress, introduced by the Honorable Nicholas
MuUer, of New York, is one of the most remarkable doc-
uments ever given to the American people. It is remark-
able as illustrating the heartlessness of man ; remarkable
as illustrating the amount of scoundrelism there is in our
social and political organizations ; and remarkable for its
exemplification of those trite sayings so common among
the slaves of the South before the war, and which I have
placed at the head of this article. " White man very un-
sartin." *' Nigger haint got no friends, no how."
I again approach this black chapter in the history of
the great — perhaps I should say once great — Republican
party with feelings of sadness. Here, in this remarkable
report, we have man's inhumanity to man portrayed in all
its darkest colors.
Just here let me pause for a moment to thank kind,
generous-hearted Mr. Muller for introducing the resolution
which brought out the strange chapter of sf^oundrelism
contained in this remarkable report. And I do this the
more cheerfully because he is a Democrat and I am an old
time Republican, perhaps I should say Abolitionist, and
had failed in three attempts to get a Republican to intro-
Before proceeding to dissect this remarkable report,
however, I propose to say, as a matter of history, some-
thing in regard to the formation of the plot concocted by,
to use a vulgar phrase, Boss Shepherd and his Ring to rob
this bank for the earnings of the poor.
Even high-toned robbery has its vein of romance, and
there was something romantic in the early stages of the
history of this gigantic robbery. One cold, stormy No-
vember night, in the year 1871, my rooms were invaded,
and my reveries broken by a man I regarded as an in-
truder. He threw otf his wet coat, put his umbrella in
the coal box, and I invited him to take a seat. "I am
here," he said, " on a very important mission." He was
considerably excited, and for some minutes spoke with a
tremulous voice and somewhat incoherently. At first I
thought he was under the influence of liquor, but I re-
membered that he was not given to the cup. I begged
him to concentrate his thoughts, and tell me in the fewest
words possible what he had to say.
" Mr. Adams," he said, after pausing a moment, " I
know you are a true friend of the colored man."
" Well, never mind that, said I, proceed with what you
have to say."
He did proceed, and disclosed to me the most monstrous
plot for getting possession of the money deposited in the
Freedmen's Bank, and that by men who had been promi-
nent Republicans and professing Christians. There was
something so monstrous, so heartless, and so at variance
with the laws which ordinarily govern human actions, as
to create a doubt in my mind of the truth of what he said.
The name of this gentleman was John R. Elvans, a mem-
ber of the Examining Committee of the bank, who in-
formed me that he had protested, in the name of honesty
and humanity, against the contemplated robbery, and
had resigned rather than have it appear that he had
countenanced so monstrous a wrong. (Just here I desire
to put on record this acknowledgment of Mr. Elvans'
The substance of the plot was that the six millions of
hard earnings of the slaves, constituting their life-time
savings, were to be got by the conspirators on worthless se-
curities, such as bogus paving company stock, second mort-
gage bonds, and stock of the Seneca Sandstone Company,
shares of the Young Men's Christian Association, and
other stuff even more worthless. He also insisted, with
considerable emphasis, that the Seneca Sandstone Ring had
got complete control of the bank's money.
In reply to a request that Mr. Elvans would give me
the names of the men prominent in so dastardly a con-
spiracy, he gave me those of A. R. Shepherd, Hallet Kil-
bourn, William S. Huntington, Doctor John L. Kidwell,
Lewis Clephane, O. O. Howard, and D. L. Eaton. He
also asserted with some vehemence that the officers of the
bank, professing Christians and pretended friends of the
negroes, were " deepest in the fraud."
In order to be sure of my ground, and not to be misled,
I requested Mr. Elvans to get me a transcript from the
books of the bank, of the loans he had asserted had been
made on those worthless securities. Two days afterwards
he brought me the desired transcript, which is now before
me in his own handwriting. The following is an exact
copy of it : ' ♦
1. " $20,000 Seneca Sandstone Quarry Company, at 90
cents, to Dr. John L. Kidwell. Loau, $18,000."
2. " Loan to M. G. Emery of S25,000, on corporation
coupon certificates, par value of §50,000."
jNlr. Emery was mayor of the city at the time, and it is
only right to say here that the loan was a legitimate one,
and ultimately paid, with interest.
3. "Loan to H. K." (which meant Hallett Kilbourn.)
" on 300 shares of Metropolis Paving Company, 814,000.
The par value of stock $30,000, only $3,500 paid up."
The stock of this concern of which Lewis Clephane was
president, and at the same time one of the Finance Com-
mittee of the Bank, was at the time it was hypothecated
utterly worthless. This Lewis Clephane was what we shall
call here, a high society Republican, and twenty years ago
was book-keeper for Doctor Guilmel Bailey, editor of the
National Era, an ultra anti-slavery journal. Mr. Clephane
is now a man of wealth, lives in a thirty thousand dollar
house, pretentiously located on the corner of 13th aud K
streets. How he got the money to build such an elegant
house, to ride in his carriage, and fare sumptuously every
day, is not a matter for so humble an individual as myself
to inquire into. Washington has its laws, socially, legally,
and morally, and I have sometimes thought that the bigger
the thief the gnniter were his immunities. The difference
between the big thief, in Washington, and the little thief,
was beautifully illustrated a few weeks ago in the sentence
of one of our judges who sent a black man of the name
of George Washington to the Maryland pentitentiary for
six months, at hard labor, for stealing a goat. Yes, for
stealing a goat, commonly regarded as a public nuisance.
With so righteous a sentence, staring us in the face, who
will dare say justice is jobbed in this District ?
As to the matter of Mr, Clephaue's wealth, so suddenly
acquired, I can safely leave that as a matter to be decided
between his conscience and himself. Enough of this.
Let us return to Mr. El vans' transcript.
4. " Demand Note, of Scharf Paving Company, collat-
teral, 200 shares, of SlOO each. (Worthless.) Loan,
This Scharf Paving Company was an offshoot of the
rascally Metropolis Paving Company, of which John O.
Evans, Kilbourn, and other congenial spirits, were the
managers, and Lewis Clephane the president. And just
here I beg the innocent reader not to forget that during
all this time Lewis Clephane, the high society Republican,
described above, was a member of the Finance Committee
of the Freedman's Bank, made such, because of his sup-
posed friendship for the colored man.
5. " Loan to John L. Kidwell, apothecary, and President
of the Seneca Sandstone Company, 20 bonds of S500 each.
Loan, $4,000, at 10 per cent."
These bonds were not worth the paper they were printed
GENERAL O. O. HOWARD, THE GREAT CHRISTIAN SOLDIER,
COMES UPON THE STAGE AS A SPECULATOR.
6. " Gen'l O. O. Howard, (late Vice-President of the
Bank,) on Lot 11, in Block 4, subdivision of Smith's farm ;
also sundrv good and bad bonds as collateral. Loan,
To avoid argument, let us accept General O. O. How-
ard as a first-class Christian and an accepted friend
of the colored man and brother. But the reader must not
forget that, from the days of Adam, our great forefather,
down to the illustrious Babcock, temptation could be made
too strong for even the purest of Christians. And, too,
there were crimes by which even the angels fell. The six
millions of dollars deposited in the Freedmen's Bank by
the slaves just set free, after nearly two centuries of the
most abject bondage, proved Brother Howard's Satan,
tempting him on to commit crime. The temptation was
too strong for him, and he fell a victim to his ambition for
speculation, just as Satan, before him, had fallen under the
too great weight of another kind of temptation. Yes, the
great, the good, the Christian soldier fell a victim to his
love of gain. Our Saviour scourged the money-changers
for a crime much less heinous, and he drove them out of
the Temple, too. It is in proof that this walking example
of Christian purity, this soldier of the Lord, resigned his
position as Vice-President of the Bank for the safe keeping
of the freedmen's earnings, because the law debarred him
from being a borrower, and three days afterward.-? appeared
at the counter of the bank and borrowed 824,000 of it5
money — that, too, for the vulgar purpose of speculating in
corner lots. General O. O. Howard still holds his position
as a high society Republican, and is an idol of the church.
I now come to that great modern statesman, Christian,
friend of the church, and defender of the illustrious U. S.
Grant, and the still more illustrious Babcock, the personi-
fication of the late Board of Public Works, and all the
crimes it was heir to. It was not to be expected that a
gentleman of so much goodness of heart, so wise, modest,
and retiring ; a gentleman whose heart yearned every hour
of the day to do generous acts for the benefit of his fellow-
men — who went to bed of a night contemplating the
amount of good he could do for mankind in general and
Washington in particular ; whose disinterestedness caused
him to forget himself entirely — a man, I assert here with-
out fear of contradiction, who, by his own unaided exer-
tions, had raised himself from the position of an humble
plumber and ga«-fitter — thankful for a job, no matter how
small — to the high position of a governor, a modern states-
man, a friend of humanity, and an adviser of the Presi-
dent. Here let me say, as a lover of truth and justice,
that a great deal has been said about the fall of this great
modern statesman, and very little about his rise. To -us
the rise is the most important part of it, and for the very
reason that it repeats the story of Whittington and his cat,
thrice Lord Mayor of London, to say nothing of honest
Sancho Panza and his government of the island of Barri-
tario. But comparisons between governors are odious, as
Mrs. Malliprop said.
Just here I confess, as a lover of the truth of history, to
have erred and strayed from my subject. My object was
to show you that Alexander R. Shepherd (according to
Mr. Elvans,) w^as one of the original conspirators for rob-
bing the Freedmen's Bank ! This is sad, but it is true.
He appears in Mr. John R. Elvans' transcript, as follows :
7. " Loan to A. R. S." (Alexander R. Shepherd) " of
815,000, on lots 5 and 6, square 452."
I was informed on good authority that these lots,
on which Mr. A. R. Shepherd borrowed fifteen thousand
dollars, w^ere not worth half the amount. This gentle-
man's future operations with the bank were conducted
on a more magnificent scale, but in the names of other
persons. As Mr. Beverly Douglas said during his inves-
tisration into the affairs of the bank, it was marvelous to
see how many of other peoples' fingers Mr. Shepherd had
used to pull the Freedmen's Bank chestnuts for him.
I had hoped that the solemn and impressive death of that
other great modern statesman and benefactor of mankind,
William Marcy Tweed, would have had a good effect on
the moral and religious status of our late governor. But
recent events convince me that the solemn and impressive
warning remains unheeded.
Here again we have another Christian statesman, of high
standing in the Republican church, who wants the Freed-
men's money — doubtless for a pious purpose.
8. " Henry D. Cooke, (chairman of the Finance Com-
mittee,) loan of §10,000 on 400 shares of stock of the
Young Men's Christian Association."
It is due to Mr. Cooke to say that this sum was afterwards
paid. Doubtless his intentions were good when he bor-
rowed the money. Naturally a well-meaning man, he
fell a victim to bad association.
9. " P. T. Langley's note, endorsed by D. L. Eaton, actu-
ary of the bank. Loan, $500, no security."
This completes the transcript brought me from the books
of the bank, in November, 1871. I need hardly tell the
reader that the gentlemen whose names appear as original
conspirators to rob the bank were Republicans of high
standing in the party, and professed friends of the colored
man. It will also be observed that they initiated the rob-
bery, by getting the money on worthless securities, and
with two or three additions of men of the same stamp, in
politics as well as religion, continued it to the very end.
Fully satisfied that what Mr. El vans had told me was
true — satisfied also of the existence of a conspiracy to
steal the funds of the bank — the next question was, as to
how the disaster, sure to result from it, could be averted.
I laid Mr. Elvans' statement before several leading Re-
publicans, in and outside of Congress, and appealed to
them to assist me in rescuing the bank and its money from
this combination of robbers. I use very plain language'
in treating of this very black crime — one which should
sink the Republican party so far out of sight that it would
never again have an existence. Must I confess here that
I appealed to Republicans in vain ? Some of them had
for years been shedding tears over the sorrows of the
slave ; but, like Pomeroy, of Kansas, they had borrowed
the newly emancipated slave's money, and it had sealed
their lips and withered their consciences.
I appealed to a member of Grant's cabinet. He had
previously professed friendship for the negro. He glanced
over Mr. Elvans' black list of loans, smiled, and handed
it back, saying, the names were those of highly honorable
gentlemen, who would not do a dishonest act. He inti-
mated, also, that Mr. Elvans was bent on creating a sensa-
tion. This cabinet minister, as was afterwards proven,
was connected with the most prominent of these conspira-
tors in real estate and other speculations. In plain lan-
guage, this gang of Republican knaves were all powerful
at court, at that time. Grant, himself, was their friend
associate, and partner in Seneca sandstone and other spec-
ulations. Indeed it is only the truth to say of Grant that
such was the force of his democratic instincts that he never
had any real, honest sympathy with the negro, to say
nothing of his contempt for poor men of whatever color.
It was Grant's native dislike of the negro and the aboli-
tionist alike, that led him into his unfortunate quarrel
with Mr. Sumner. That quarrel initiated the independent
Republicans, and it also initiated the disintegration of the
I associate the robbery of this bank with the Republi-
can party, because, as I said before, the robbers were all
Republicans of high standing in the church ; and the
chosen leaders of the party looked on with indifference
while the robbery was going on, and continued to look on
with indifference until the bank closed its doors in bank-
Then for the first time the cry of shame went up, but
not from the leaders of the Republican party. Their
energies were given to protect the robbers, to stifle investi-
gation, and to slander the men fearless enough to expose
the hideous conspiracy.
Here we were brought face to face with the fact that the
Republican party had abandoned its principles, had aban-
doned truth and justice — even humanity itself — and in the
future would depend on dollars and cents for its strength.
Its political morality strongly resembled the Democratic
party as it was twenty years ago, when slavery was its Po-
litical Fetish — when it had a Jew banker at one end of it
and a prize fighter at the other.
Again we were brought face to face with the fact that
the Republican party and its professed leaders had reached
that very high standard of modern civilization, when a
bank for the savings of the wages of the poor could be
made part of a system of robbery, the robbers being
encouraged and recognized by the administration and
society. To be even more explicit, it was the first time in
the history of felony that the workmen and workwomen,
the scrubbers and washers, the orphans and widows of the
poorest and most ignorant classes in the city of Washing-
ton, were unwittingly made to cash obligations issued by
an organized gang of thieves and plunderers.
May I ask the reader to go back with me to the time
Mr. John R. Elvans made his statement. Finding there
was no other way of stopping the robbery or exposing the
crime but through the press, I had recourse to that.
My first articles, as is very well known, appeared in the
Savannah Morning Neivs. The New York Sun, on being
assured of the correctness of ray statements, afterwards
came to the rescue and did good service in making the
hideous crime public. The appearance of these articles
created great excitement in Washington, as well they
might. Denials came thick and fast, the robbers and their
friends — and they were numerous and strong — asserted that
the bank was in a perfectly sound condition, that its man-
agement was above suspicion. Of course the author of
the articles was denounced as a libeler, and threatened
with vengeance. The officers of the bank, without distinc-
tion of color or previous condition of servitude, were de-
clared to be Republicans in good standing, and very high-
toned gentlemen. I had heard something very similar to
There was a weak and somewhat dyspeptic Democratic
journal, called the Patriot, published in Washington at
that time, and to the cohimns of which Montgomery Blair
and other patriots contributed. The managing editor of
this paper was a Mr. Harris, an experienced journalist, who
appreciated the value o^ truth to a properly-conducted news-
paper. This gentleman intensified the excitement then
prevailing, by republishing, in a somewhat modified form,
two of the articles from the Savannah Morning News. For
this great offense he not only lost his place, but the paper
made two of the most abject and cowardly apologies journ-
alism has any account of. The chiefs of the gang forced
these abject apologies from the managers of the Patriot by
threatening castigation and libel suits.
It is hardly necessary to say here that subsequent devel-
opments have shown the black chapter of that robbery to
have been ten times blacker than I had painted it. The
villainy unearthed by Mr. Beverly Douglas' committe..',
three years ago, stands to-day the blackest crime in our
criminal history. That committee, in its clear and able
report, gave us the names of the prominent actors in that
great crime ; and yet the finger of justice has not touched
one of them. Strange as it may seem to the ordinary
thinker, these men, so well known at this day, and who
committed the meanest theft history has any account of,
stand as high in the Republican church to-day as they did
when General Grant was the great high priest of the
Here let me say that the fact must not be overlooked,
A REPUBLICAN CONGRESS
was, in a great measure, responsible for the robbery of the
Freedmen's Bank. And this I say more in sorrow than
anerer. The reader will bear in mind that the acts of
Congress, under which the bank's original charter was
granted, prescri])cd the character of the securities (Gov-
ernment bonds) on which its money could be loaned. The
men who had combined to get possession of the bank's
money, on worthless securities, such as Paving Company
stock, Seneca Sandstone stock, Morris' Mining Company
stock, stock of the Young Men's Christian Association, and
other stock equally worthless and fraudulent, found this
simple and very requisite safeguard a serious impediment
to the successful carrying out of their infamous project.
They went before a Republican Congress, and with the as-
surance of experienced cracksmen, asked it to repeal the
restrictive clause, and pass an act which made the robbery
that followed, possible. And, as the vote will show, a Re-
publican Congress was only too glad to accommodate
them. In truth. Congress enacted laws for their benefit, and
which virtually placed the funds of the bank at the mercy
of the thieves and plunderers, who at once entered its
vaults and began the work of emptying them. A Repub-
lican Congress placed in the hands of these bad, designing
men, the power to make the scrubbers and the washers, th«
widows and orphans of the poor and the ignorant — even
the maimed soldier — unwittingly cash their worthless obli-
Here, and now let me say a few words in
DEFENSE OF THE NEGRO.
Much has been said and written on the vices, great and
small, of the uegro. He has been accused of being igno.
rant, brutish, and vicioHS, of want of thrift, of having
largely developed animal propensities, of a chronic ina-
bility to tell the truth, of a disposition to accumulate prop-
erty not his own, and of a weakness to explore the
chicken roosts of his neighbors. In truth he has for more
than a century been charged with no end of small vices,
and a propensity to do the meanest kind of stealing.
Heaven knows he has small vices enough. I admit it and
deplore it, as well for its bad effect on society generally,
as for the damage it inflicts on his own people. But the
thoughtful and candid reader will join me in saying that
the negro, in his very worst and most vicious condition to-
day, is precisely what slavery made him. Slavery was
based on cruelty and tyranny, and was alike destructive —
morally, mentally, and commercially — of the best interests
of black and white.
Slavery, in the very magnitude of its cruelty, denied the
black man education, manhood, the right to think or act
for himself. Slavery denied him all right to his own off-
spring, all right to regard himself as a man. It caused
him to be born a chattel, to be raised a chattel ; it de-
graded him, made him brutish, and sold him in the market
like a beast of burden. When the day of his deliverance
came he was found to be exactly what slavery made him —
nothing more, nothing less. And I appeal to the thought-
ful reader, to the just and the generous, if it is not too
great an exaction to expect examples of morality and high
Christian virtues, of a race so long held in degrading
Criminal and vicious classes are not confined to race,
color, or country. Thoy are found everywhere. A long
residence in the South enabled me to observe and study the
habits of both black and white. A more illiterate, vicious,
and depraved — a class more reckless of human life than
the poor whites of the South it would be difficult to find
in any country. I refer more particularly to what are
known as crackers, wire-grass, and sand-hill men. De-
praved and vicious to an extent almost beyond belief, they
yet, in many things, hold the better classes subject to their
dictation, and too frequently make them responsible for
their crimes. My experience has been that for Christian
virtues, for all that was kindly and tractable in human
nature, the negro, even as a slave, was by far the poor
white's superior ; in truth, I never saw the time, in the
South, when I would not prefer trusting myself in his
bands. Now that the negro is a man, a citizen, a voter,
and a factor in the body politic of the South, it seems to
me that it should not only be the desire but the ambition
of the " ruling classes " (I use an old and much abused ex-
pression) to treat him fairly, as if he had always been
a man entitled to the value of his own labor, to educate
and elevate him — in a word, to make him part and parcel
of their own welfare. They must make him something
more than he was when he came out of the fiery furnace
of slaver}', as a means to their own protection. I would
suggest, also, as I did twenty-seven years ago, that the
** ruling classes " of the South would find it to their benefit
to try the experiment of education on that large and very
dangerous class I referred to above, called poor whites. I
make this suggestion, fully avyare that these poor whites —
lawless, vicious, and degraded as they are — have heretofore
fiercely resisted all attempts in that direction, firmly be-
lieving, as they do, that education is an evil, and civiliza-
tion an infringement of their sovereign rights to roam
over the sand hills, raid on the plantations of the rich,
shoot negroes at sight, and burn down school houses.
The present Governor of Kentucky understood the situ-
ation I have been discussing perfectly when he said, in his
message vetoing the act for the restoration of that relic of
barbarism and cruelty, the whipping post : " Mankind is
already too much degraded. He who can elevate and
place mankind on an higher plane is a benefactor of his
race." I have had these words printed in letters of gold,
framed, and hung on the walls of ray humble sanctum.
NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN.
Out of all the charges of vice laid at the door of the
necrro race there rises the fact that almost on the heels of
their emancipation the men and women composing it
brought out their savings of a lifetime and deposited nearly
six million of dollars in this Freedmen's Bank and its
thirty-odd agencies. The candid-minded will admit that
this fact is something greatly to their credit, and must not
be forgotten when their virtue or want of virtue is under
discussion. Indeed, it speaks volumes for their thrift, for
their love of saving, and providing for future wants.
Most of this money was drawn from the middle southern
States, the negroes of Georgia alone contributing nearly
half a million, all of which, or nearly all of which, was
brought here and placed at the mercy of a ring of Repub-
lican sharpers, and with the shocking result already known.
It is also something to the credit of the race that, during
and just after the war, very many of them, with remark-
able shrewdness, purchased property and l)iiilt comfortable
little homes in what is now the most desiraljle part of the
city, and where real estate is the most valuable. The im-
posing churches and school houses they have built in this
neighborhood must also be accepted as proof of their thril't
and progress. It is also something to their credit that,
during the reign of Mr. Shepherd and his vile Ring, they
successfully resisted the shameful attempts made to get
possession of their property and drive them from their
homes. Here let me say that the greatest danger to the
future prospects of the race will come from those mischie-
vous, ambitious, and restless men, more white than black,
who set themselves up as leaders, and are always shedding
tears over what they call the sorrows of " their race."
They have no claim to race distinction, being a bad cross
between a bad white man and an unchaste negress. I can-
not help thinking that their example is bad and their
The damaging effect, morally, physically, and otherwise,
on the negro, of the robbery of the Freed men's Bank can
hardly be over estimated. It was a very serious blow to
his progress — to his future hopes. It made him lose faith
in the integrity of the white man. The hope of gain no
longer sweetens labor with him. He no longer saves his
money to deposit in a saving bank, where he was so plaus-
ibly told it would bring him large interest, and ultimately
a home. No ; my experience has been that a large majority
of the negroes to-day spend their money as they earn it,
and indeed have lost that ambition to put something aside
for a rainy day which characterised them a few years ago.
I will here relate au iustance in proof of what is said
in the above, and which \vill forceably illustrate a thou-
sand other cases. During the campaign on the peninsula
(1862) under McClellan, we had our headquarters (Frank-
lin's) at Toler's Farm, Cumberland Landing, on the Pa-
munkey. A very intelligent and respectable colored man
came to me and disclosed the secret that he had more than
fourteen hundred dollars, in silver, buried in the cellar. His
wife, a wonderfully active woman, and one child were owned
by the Tolers. He, himself, was the slave of a Mr. Myers,
of Richmond, of whom he bought his time, as was common
among the more intelligent and thrifty slaves. He boasted
that his master would trust him anywhere, and had always
been very kind to him. The Tolers, on the other hand,
were very hard on their slaves, and Henry's greatest ambi-
tion was to get money enough to purchase the freedom of his
wife and child, and the money he had saved from fishing
and oystering on the York and Pamunkey rivers was
for that, purpose. For that he had toiled, and toiled, and
toiled for sixteen years to get money enough to purchase
the freedom of his wife and child. Even then he could
have taken his money, his wife, and his child, and gone to
Washington ; but he refused. Indeed, he remained true
to his master until the fall of Richmond. Then he came
here, put what money he had left in the Freedmen'§ Bank,
and the painful story is told in these words : he lost it.
The Washington sharpers got it. I met this man a few
years ago; dissipation had overtaken him; he was a
changed man ; uttering curses on the heads of the men
who had robbed him.
Let us retrace our steps again.
A REPUBLICAN CONGRESS
was agaiu derelict of its duty. Wheu the gang organized
to rob the bank had finished its nefarious work, and its
doors were closed in bankruptcy, one would have supposed
that the most important question to be decided was the
(juickost and most economical method of winding up its
affairs, to the end of saving as much as possible to the
poor, deluded depositors. A Republican Congress did ex-
actly the opposite of this.
Instead of authorizing the President to appoint a re-
ceiver, a man of well-known integrity and business capacity,
it authorized him to appoint a board of three commission-
ers, each at a salary of three thousand dollars a year, to
be paid out of the funds of the bank. This was virtually
giving the commissioners a long lease of the funds.
Grant, in making these appointments, charmingly illus-
trated what is known as Grantism. Creswell, who resigned
his position in Grant's cabinet to escape impeachment, and
with whose official and political record the country is
already familiar, was his first choice. Money is Mr.
Creswell's fetish, no one has ever accused him of doing a
charitable act, and as for political convictions, he has about
as much use for them as a savage has for a time-piece.
Wheu a Senator, a true friend of the race, remonstrated
against this appointment and predicted the result. Grant
said Creswell was a lawyer, and as such could make him-
self useful in managing the legal affairs. We shall see
what kind of legal service this lawyer has rendered.
Grant's next choice was an aged black man, with a very
benevolent face, named Purvis. Of law, banking, finance,
poor Purvis knew just nothing. His knowledge of medi-
cine even was slender, and he resided in Philadelphia."
These qualifications, however, were satisfactory to Grant,
who said the Board would not be complete without " one
nigger," whose presence was necessary to inspire confidence
in the plundered depositors. He doubtless meant the poor
devils, the washers and scrubbers, the very poor and the
very ignorant, who had been plundered by his cronies.
Grant's third choice was R. H. T. Leipold.* His qual-
ifications were that he was a Hessian by birth, had lived in
Wisconsin, was a favorite of Senator Howe of that State,
and had been a clerk in that great American penal colony,
the Treasury Department. I want the reader to make a
note of this Senator Howe part of the business, as I shall
have something to say on it hereafter, when a son-in-law of
that Senator figures somewhat numerically.
To men of Purvis' and Leipold's type, this salary of
three thousand dollars a year was a god-send of no mean
dimensions. But placing them in charge of the bank's
money was a very dangerous power to intrust such men
with. Grant, I am told, used to allude to these commis-
sioners as representing Europe, Africa, and America.
That it was a charming blending of colors must be con-
fessed. The sombre clouding, however, hung around
America, represented by the man Creswell.
Let us turn now and see how these commissioners have
* My old friend, General Spinner, can further enlighten the
reader on Leipold's fitness for a commissioner to wind up the
affairs of the Freedmon's Bank.
MOST SACRED TRUST.
Let US survey the field carefully and thoroughly, and
see how these commissioners have got away with the sav-
ings of the scrubbers and the washers, the widows and the
orphans of the very poor and the very ignorant. And I
will begin this by turning to the testimony and report of
Hon. Beverly Douglass' Investigating Committee, made to
Congress May 9th, 1876. That investigation developed :
First : A chapter of fraud unparalleled in the history of
Second : Shameful dereliction of duty on the part of the
Third : That J. A. J. Creswell was too much engaged in
other business, to give any of his valuable time to
the bank. That he paid Leipold $500 for attend-
ing to his part of the business, and quietly pocketed
Fourth : That the colored man Purvis, followed the exam-
ple of Creswell — paid Leipold $500 to excuse him.
Fifth : That Leipold was the great Republican high priest,
who ran the bank according to his own methods.
Sixth : That the remaining funds were fast disappearing
into the pockets of the commissioners and their fa-
Seventh : That the commissioners were appointed on the
4th of July, 1874, and that no report of their man-
agement has been made, as was required by law.
Eighth : That more than sixty thousand dollars had dis- .
appeared in a single year, for what was called " ex-
Ninth : That there was at least a suspicious connection
between Liepold, Senator Howe's man, and lawyer
' Totten, a son-in-law of the same Senator.
Tenth : That G. W. Stickney succeeded D. L. Eaton, as
Actuary of the bank ; that some of the very worst
frauds on the bank were committed during his ad-
ministration, and with his knowledge. Not only
this, but that he was found to be individually
indebted to the bank to the amount of $2,680.
Brother G. W. Stickney, sometimes called Colonel
Stickney, is well known in Washington, alike for his pray-
ing propensities and sharp practices. He is, if I may be
pardoned for using the phrase, an outwash of the war, a
Christian statesman of the Schuyler Colfax type. He is
one of those persons who could, at any time, get a certifi-
cate of good character from those illustrious friends of
humanity, IT. S. Grant and Boss Shepherd.
Let us turn to page 50 of Mr. Beverly Douglas' report
and see what Brother J. W. Alvord, at one time president
of the Freedmen's Bank, says of Brother G. W. Stickney :
By the Chairman (Douglas) :
Q. I want you to tell the Committee, without any evasion or
concealment, whether, during your administration as president,
or your corineetion with the bank as trustee, there -jvas, to your
mind and your comprehension, a fair, faithful, and honest admin-
istration of its funds ?
A. I can answer in the language of Saturday last. There was
1 would not say dishonest, but improper loaning to men who
were not responsible ; loaning upon insufficient security ; loaning
on illegal security, such as city scrip and personal chattels ; and
permitting employees at the branches to loan without the knowl-
edge of the trustees. The Actuary [Stickney] gave them such
permission as that. They quoted him as authority for such loans.
I do not think that the trustees ever stole any money. [Credulous
Alvord !] The matter of Vandenburgh is one of the marked
instances that I would range under insufficient security.
Q. You seem to be very well acquainted with Yandenburg,
from your boyhood up. Do you know whether there was any
business connection in the stfcet paving business between Yan-
denburgh and Alexander R. Shepherd at the time these loans were
being negotiated ?
A. I do not know that there was any business connection.
Q. Tell us of any other connection that there was between
A. I know that they were acquaintances, and that Mr. Shep-
herd was at the head of affairs here, while Mr. Yandenburgh
was a contractor.
Q. Contractor under him ?
A. Contractor of him ; he contracted to do his work in the
city for pay. * * *
By Mr. Bradford :
Q. Where is this Mr. Stickney, the actuary ? Does he live in
this city ?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. What was his pecuniary condition when he entered the ser-
vice of the Freedmen's Bank ?
A. He was a man without any appearance of any considerable
amount of means — not very large amount of property. He is a
wide-a-wake, active, business real estate broker. •
Q. How much property has he got now ?
A. I cannot tell. * * * I think he has an interest in a good
many pieces of property ; how large that interest is, or how well
secured, I cannot say.
The above will serve to show what kind of a man this
G. W. Stickney was. The simple truth is that, when he
took charge of the bank's affiiirs, about all the property he
had was his pretensions to being a high church Republican,
and his stock in trade in religion of an assorted kind.
Old man Alvord was an unwilling witness. He could
have told the Committee much more than he did of the
connection between Stickney and Shepherd, Vandenburgh
and Shepherd, John O. Evans, Lewis Clephane, and Hal-
lett Kilbourne. Vandenburgh is a free and easy, good
natured, open-handed man, and not naturally dishonest.
And yet he was, during the reign of Mr. Shepherd and
his Ring, a sample sheep, of which Clephane, Evans, Kil-
bourne, and Shepherd constituted the flock. He was asso-
ciated with them in the paving business, and the very
large amounts of money he was permitted to draw from
the bank from time to time, and while Stickney had almost
absolute control of its funds — nearly $200,000 — convinces
me that there was not only collusion, but that Vanden-
burgh was used as an instrument by his more designing
confederates. These " Vandenburgh loans," as they are
called, are regarded as bad as any made by the bank.
That Vandenburgh never could have used so large an
amount of money in his own business, the Committee were
satisfied. This, too, must be said, that Mr. Beverly Doug-
las was very decidedly of the opinion that Vandenburgh
was " used by the master spirits of the ring to pull their
chestnuts oiit of the fire."
Stickney was responsible for these bad loans. They
were made with his consent, perhaps not criminally. I
have, however, given enough proof to convince the candid
reader that he never should have beeu employed as
an officer of the bank again.
THE SADDEST CHAPTER OF ALL.
I come now to the saddest and most melancholy chapter
of this history of fraud. I refer to the report recently
wrung from the commissioners in response to Mr. Muller's
resolution, introduced in Congress February 25th, 1878.
This report, (Mis. Doc. 43, House of Representatives,
45th Congress, 2d Session,) is a very remarkable docu-
ment, and merits to be extensively read and carefully
studied. It is a remarkable document, as well for the
force in which it illustrates the blighting power of money,
the want of heart, soul, and conscience, even the better
class of mankind is afflicted with at the present day, and,
worst of all, that there is very little difference between the
men, who, in 1870, deliberately plotted to rob the bank,
and the men, who, in 1878, and under the disguise of law,
make themselves *and their friends the beneficiaries of
what there is left.
The following passage is quoted from this remarkable
report, to which the names of the three commissioners are
attached. It reads like a bit of exquisite satire :
" In conclusion, permit us to say that we have no knowl-
edge of any improper use of the funds of the company to
which reference is made in the preamble of the resolution
of the House of Representatives, except sums required for
the payment of petty expenditures and expenses incurred
by agents and deducted from their collections."
This is a very singular statement to make to Congress,
and is false on its face. Can it be possible that these com-
missioners were so deaf to public sentiment that they did
not hear the criticisms made on their conduct in managing
the affairs of the bank for the last three years ? Do they not
know that the atmosphere of Washington has been foul with
scandals in regard to the relations between one of the com-
missioners and a well-known Washington lawyer, who was
enriching himself at the expense of the washers and scrub-
bers, the very poor and the very ignorant? Do they not
know that these suspicious relations have been the talk of
the Washington bar for at least two years? Why, gentle-
men commissioners, this report of yours is, of itself, the
best proof that there was just cause for these scandals, if
such you choose to call them.
I have shown that Creswell and Purvis were mere figure-
heads, who pocketed their salaries with heartless regularity,
while Leipold did all the business, and was really the
Board of Commissioners. I have also shown this man
Leipold's relations to Senator Howe, and his son-in-law,
lawyer Enoch Totten. We have now only to turn and see
what an extensive field lawyer Enoch Totten found for his
legal services, and how splendidly he improved it. Here
are some of his charges :
January 20, 1875, Fees, &c., $22 00
March "i, 1875, Enoch Totten,* Attorney 34 00
March 20, 1875, " " 13 00
April 7, 1875, " " 12 00
April 13, 1875, " " 1100
May 10, 1875, " " 23 00
May 28, 1875, " " (fees) 500 00
June 25, 1875, " " (fees, &c.) -— 58 00
September 27, 1875, " " 29 00
October 6, 1875, " " 17 00
November 3, 1875, " " 22 00
" '* " (fees) 500 00
December 23, 1875, " " (fees) 1,000 00
1876, Enoch Totten, Attorney
1876, " "
1876, " "
1876, " "
1876, " "
Filing Bill in Equity-
Attorney's Costs, &c.,.
(fees & costs)
Jan'ry 10, 1877, Enoch Totten, (costs)
Feb'ry 9, 1877, "
Feb'ry 23, 1877, "
April 5. 1877, "
April 19, 1877,
May 5, 1877, "
May 17, 1877, '' .
May 31, 1877, "
June 30, 1877, "
July 5, 1877,
July 13, 1877, *'
July 19, 1877,
Sept'r 1, 1877, "
Sept'r 15, 1877, "
Oct'br 18, 1877, '♦
Nov'br22, 1877, "
Dec'br 13, 1877, "
(fees and costs) _
. 1,200 00
" 1,409 53
1875 $2,241 00
1876 6,338 90
1877 4,821 21
Total $13,401 11
The sad story of greed recorded in the above account of
fees is so well told as to render comment by me unneces-
sary. And yet the above is by no means all lawyer Enoch
Totten got of the money of the washers and the scrubbers,
the very poor and the very ignorant. He can afford to
ride in his coach ; and I hope he can sleep at night with
the self-satisfaction that he has been just and generous to
the poor freedmen who had been so cruelly robbed, and
had pocketed only what was right of their money.
Not very long since, Mr. Frederick Douglas said there
were raefi in Washington, living in palaces, and riding in
their coaches, who were prominent in robbing his people of
their hard earnings. Mr. Douglas never told a greater
truth. I envy no man destined to carry a guilty conscience
through the world with him.
To turn to this lawyer Totten, he may be eminent as a
lawyer, but I never heard of it. Nor have I ever heard
that his reputation at the Washington Bar was such as to
entitle him to excessive fees.* I have heard of Attoruey-
at-Law Totten, in connection with the " Beaufort and
Texas Prize Claim," which, in the language of District
Attorney Wells, was one of the very worst frauds invented
to get nearly a million dollars out of the Treasury of the
I am assured that the legal services rendered by Mr.
Totten, were of a very simple and commonplace kind ; and
that there are at least fifty members of the Washington
* Since writicg this, one S. A. Peuijh, a Claim and Pension
Agent, was convicted by a jury of this District for taking an ex-
cessive fee. Compared with Attorney-at-Law Totten's charges,
bis fee was extremely moderate.
Bar, as good and perhaps better lawyers than Mr. Totten,
who would have gladly performed the service for one-sixth
of the amount charged.
You have in the above a faint glirfipse of the ways and
means by which the money of these poor, plundered people
is disappearing. And yet these well paid Commissioners,
who have proven themselves so recreant to this trust, tell
us with a coolness that challenges our credulity, that they
have " no knowledge of any improper use of the funds of
the company to which reference is made in the preamble
of the resolution of the House of Representatives." How
very innocent these Commissioners are. Their innocence
is only equalled by Mr. Attorney-at-Law Totten's great
respect for the money of his clients, the washers and the
scrubbers, the very poor and the very ignorant. It was
Sheridan, I believe, who said that if he wanted to find a
first-class scoundrel, heartless and soulless, he would search
for him in the legal profession. Had he lived in this age
of Christian statesmen he certainly would have improved
MORE FEES FOR LEGAL SERVICES.
Here, too, is our legal brother, John H. Cook, colored,
following modestly in the footsteps of his paler-faced brother,
Totten. John found the field open and went in and made
a goodly harvest of fees. Ordinarilly, John H. Cook's
clients are of the ten, fifteen, and twenty dollar class.
Here, however, he improved on himself, like Mr. Frederick
Douglass. John H. Cook, a member in good standing at the
Washington Bar, never forgets that he is a friend of '* his
race." I would here say, however, that I am assured by
several members of the Washington Bar that Mr. Cook's
services in behalf of the "bank extended over as long a
period of time and were quite as valuable as those rendered
by Mr. Totten. A glance at the list of his charges, pub-
lished below, will at least convince the reader that he was
more modest in making up his /accounts. Why the Com-
missioners should have discriminated against color in this
remarkable manner is a question the reader can decide for
There are other attorn eys-at-law, plain and colored, who
were employed by the Commissioners, and who got fees to
a very considerable amount ; but I nowhere find the name
of that eminent patriot and statesman, John Andrew
Jackson Creswell. Indeed he does not seem to have ren-
dered legal or any other service, notwithstanding General
Grant's assurance that as a lawyer he would be very use-
ful in winding up the affairs of the bank.
Here is Brother Cook's account current for legal services.
I have omitted dates :
John H. Cook $2 00
John H. Cook (continued) $160 00
" 154 00
" 95 00
« 21 00
ti _ 95 00
« 10 00
« 200 00
<c 29 00
u 130 00
«< . 73 00
ii 50 00
it 25 00
One of the worst features of this bad case, one which
will astonish and set the intelligent reader to thinking, will
be found in the fact that these Commissioners, whose feel-
ings seem blunted by avarice, again employed the man G.
W. Stickney, and in defiance of law, and I was going to
say decency itself, paid him the salary of a Commissioner.
This of itself should condemn them as unfit for their high
George W. Stickney, the man who brought so much
scandal and disgrace on the bank, again employed and
paid the salary of a Commissioner ! Shame ! What service
this man could render, except explaining his own irregu-
larities, I am unable to discover.
The Hon. Beverly Douglas, in his report to Congress
more than two years ago, showed us exactly what manner
of man this Stickney was. He also showed us, in language
not to be mistaken, how shamefully Stickney had abused
his trust. He showed us that Stickney had not only
allowed his friends to raid on the bank's funds, but was
himself a debtor to it in a very considerable amount ; also
that he was responsible for the large and very bad loans
made to what was known as the Washington Ring.*
I can only account for Stickney's employment by the Com-
missioners on the theory that the old "Washington Ring is
still active in controlling the bank's officials, and that the
Commissioners are more in sympathy with the men who de-
frauded the bank, than the men and women who were the
victims of the fraud. In the face of all this the Commis-
sioners tell us again they have " no knowledge of any im-
proper use of the funds of the company to which reference
is made in the preamble of the resolution" (Mr. MuUer's)
" of the House of Representatives."
Why, gentlemen Commissioners, this Stickney business
has been the scandal of the town for months, and it is your
£ault that you have been deaf to it.
Now mark this strange admission. In a side note on
* Mr. Johnson, the Auditor, to whom the Court referred for
adjustment certain accounts of the Freedmen's Bank, has just fur-
nished me with the following statements :
In the case of Freedmen's Savings and Trust Company vs.
Abbott Paving Company, No. 4-165, found balance due the bank,
To meet this there is on hand, in depreciated and worthless
Freedmen's Savings and Trust Co.
vs. J. No. 4463.
Found balance due the bank, $85,372.64.
Securities on hand to meet this, depreciated and worthless,
Stickney's shameful and criminal mismanagement is forcibly
told in the above. If we had a Tweed to tell us the true inward-
ness of the Abbott Paving Company, and the men behind its
scenes, the story would he doubly interesting.
page 87 of the report made in response to Mr. Muller's
resolution, the Commissioners say, " Balance due from him
(Stickney) as late Actuary Freedmen's Savings and Trust
Company, being paid by services." The reader will admit
that this is a new, if not entirely novel, method of allowing
a delinquent official to discharge his indebtedness to a bank
for the savings of the poor.
These gentlemen ask us to give them credit for, after
more than two years, paying a dividend of 10 per cent.,
(making 30 per cent, in all,) and affect to regret that they
could not, indeed had not the means to make it ten more.
And yet they admit the fact that their " expense account,"
in three years, reaches the enormous sum of $179,437.20 ;
$62,536.22 of this was for their own salaries and the sala-
ries of clerks, and $23,008.92 for fees paid to favorite
lawyers. In other words, eighty-five thousand and five
hundred and forty-five dollars and fourteen cents ($85,-
545.14) went into their own, and the pockets of the type
of lawyers I have described in another part of this work.
Well might Mr. Beverly Douglas exclaim : " The Com-
missioners regard what there is left of this sad wreck as a
legacy for the benefit of themselves and their retainers."
That the money is fast disappearing into their own pockets,
and that in two or three years more there will be but very
little of it left for the washers and the scrubbers, the very
poor and the very ignorant, who were so cruelly robbed,
we here have ample proof
A glance over the salary list referred to will show with
. what heartless regularity these well-paid Commissioners
came up to the bank's counter on the last day of each
month and drew their salary. I here insert a few speci-
January 29, 1875.
Sundry persons by N. Y. drafts 391 00
J. A. J. Creswell 250 00
Hubert Purvis 250 00
K. H. T. Leipold 250 00
George W. Sticknev 2oO 00
A. M. Sperry I 208 33
G. W. Clapp 116 66
H. S. Nvman 100 00
C. A. Fleetwood 166 66
G. H. Bruce 55 00
C. H. Jones 70 00
Henry Mason 60 00
John T. Green 45 00
E. A. Wheeler 125 00
W. E. Augusta 100 00
A. F. Hill 100 00
D. A. Ritter 100 00
February 27, 1875. John A. J. Creswell 250 00
Rcbert Purvis 250 00
R. H. T. Leipold 250 00
Georce W. Sticknev 250 00
A. M Sperry I 208 33
G. ^\. Clapp 116 66
H. S. Nvman 100 00
C. A. Fleetwood 116 66
C. H. Jones 70 00
G. H. Br.ice 55 00
Henrv Mason 60 00
John'T. Green 45 00
E. A. Wheeler 125 00
W. E. Augusta 100 00
A. F. Hill 100 00
March 29, 1875. John A. J. Creswell 260 00
R. H. T. Leipold 250 00
George W. Stickney 250 00
G. W. Clapp 116 66
H. S. Nyman 100 00
0. A. Fleetwood 116 66
C. H. Jones 70 00
G. H. Bruce 55 00
Henrv Mason 60 00
John'T. Green 45 00
E. A. Wheeler 125 00
W. E. Augusta 100 00
A. F. Hill 100 00
Horace Morris 100 00
New York drafts for agents 256 00
The wonder is that Creswell and Leipold did not ask us to
credit them with generous intentions for not waiting until
the first day of each month. These worthy gentlemen, so
true to themselves, are Republicans, holding front seats in
the church of Christian statesmen ; they are loud to preach
and strong to pray, and they thank God of a Sunday that
they are not as other men. And yet amidst all the suffer-
ing and distress, all the poverty and want, the class of
poor robbed by the officials of this bank here in Washing-
ton have been afflicted with for the past two winters,
and which the good and the generous so worthily came
forward to relieve, it does not seem for once to have oc-
curred to these Commissioners, who were enriching them-
selves on the money of the washers and scrubbers, that
even one month's salary would have purchased fuel and
bread enough to feed a thousand starving and shivering
families for a month. There is no charity on that side of
Mr. John Andrew Jackson Creswell's ledger. He is deaf
and dumb when humanity speaks. His name is not down
in charity's album ; at least I have not seen it there.
Nor have I seen Leipold's mite recorded. And I am
sure Attorney-at-law Totten would regard it as a libel on
his reputation to be accused of giving for charity's sake.
Let me end this sad story by saying that I want no better
proof of the prudence, docility, and deference of the negro
race to the white man than the fact that they did not rise
up and take summary vengeance of the scoundrels who
so cruelly robbed them of their hard earnings.
I have shown :
First : That the Freedmen's Bank, like the Freedmen's
Bureau, was an offspring of the Republican party.
Second : That its managers were Republicans of the most
radical type, from O. O, Howard down to ex-Senator
Pomeroy ; and from Pomeroy down to G. W.
Third : That the men who invented the diabolical plot to
rob the bank, and did rob it, were not only Repub-
licans holding front seats in its political tabernacle,
but friends and associates of ex-President Grant.
Fourth : That the Commissioners, who have so shamefully
neglected their trust, were high-church Republicans,
one of them an ex-member of Grant's cabinet.
Fifth : That with the single exception of Vice-President
Wilson, not a Republican, high or low, in or out of
Congress, has raised a band or voice agaiust the
robbers, or come to the defense of the poor negroes
who were being so cruelly robbed.
Sixth : That Republicans have, with the single exception
I have named, invariably apologized for and de-
fended the robbers.
Seventh : That the thoughtful reader will agree with me
that there is a meaner and more despicable class of
theft than that which applies to chicken-roosts.
Eighth : That the men guilty of this robbery are all well
known ; that the most prominent of them, to use
the language of Mr. Frederick Douglass, " live in
palaces and ride in coaches," and yet Justice has
not laid even its most dainty finger on them.
It now remains for Congress to assert its prerogative, to
rise up and wipe out this abomination, to put a stop to a
scandal that has become national, and place the winding
up of the afiairs of the bank under the Secretary of War,
with authority to appoint a competent officer to perform
the duty, to the end of saving what there is left of the
wreck to the poor victims of this cruel robbery, instead of
having it pass into the pockets of the Commissioners and
their legal retainers. We all know and appreciate the
prompt, honest, and economical way in which Adjutant
General Vincent brought the affairs of the Freedmen's Bu-
reau to a close, and exposed the canting hypocrites who
had grown rich by pocketing the colored man's bounties.
We want just such a faithful and efficient officer to wind
up the affairs of the Freedmen's Bank.
■ i;v •
. I',-. >.